DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal’s National Assembly has rejected a proposed law that would have doubled the jail time for people convicted of homosexuality, which is illegal in the country, though proponents of the bill vowed to press ahead with their efforts.
The proposed legislation backed by about a dozen members of parliament would have increased the maximum sentence from five years to 10. But legislative members of President Macky Sall’s coalition already had said they found the measure unnecessary and on Wednesday it was formally rejected.
The office of the National Assembly issued a statement saying that Sall already had made clear that homosexuality will not be legalized and is already “severely punished by the Senegalese penal code.”
Cheikh Mbacke Bara Dolly, an opposition leader in parliament, slammed his ruling coalition colleagues for rejecting the bill without further debate.
“They should have let the process come to its conclusion,” he said Thursday. “This rejection will give more power to the LGBT community.”
Human rights groups and Western leaders have lobbied Senegal to ease its laws against sexual minorities, bringing up the issue on business trips to the West African country in recent years.
Prosecutions for homosexuality in Senegal had been rare, though human rights activists say arrests are on the rise. Discrimination still runs deep in this moderate, predominantly Muslim country where the bodies of gay men have even been dug out of cemeteries after their families had laid them to rest there.